Think your Facebook profile is really private?

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A student in my Professional Communication 318 class shared the experience of going to a job interview in which the interviewer asked her to log on to Facebook and show her page. It surprised me that the future employer would go to such lengths, but I took it as a valuable warning.

For college students, it is important to mature into a more professional online image particularly when we are looking for jobs. Having an online image that you would willingly show to your relatives or professors is a tool that can allow you to network at any time. Does this mean I take down all of your pictures and only put up “professional” ones? No!

The point is for your social media account to reflect positively of you. It is not necessary to misconstrue the truth, but rather to have discretion when writing comments and posting pictures. A good rule of thumb is, “If you wouldn’t say it in front of your supervisor, or at the dinner table with 20 other people, don’t post it!”

Also, note that though you may set your profile to private, it is still accessible by those who are determined to see it. There are free programs available for public use that allow you to view private Facebook accounts ( well as sites like Spokeo that consolidate all of your personal information (address, marriage status, life stlyle, income, etc.) and for a small fee allows anybody to view it.

Manage your online presence. Start by discovering what personal information exists on the web. If you have never Googled yourself, I suggest beginning with that. For more information on how to manage your online presence, view this presentation “How to Create and Manage Your Online Presence” by Ellyssa Kroski of Barnard College Library.


2 thoughts on “Think your Facebook profile is really private?

  1. This is an amazing article and something many college students may not realize. Setting your account to private is not enough, because if someone wants to see what’s there they will.

    • Yes, I think we are de-sensitized from using computer-mediated-communication. We forget how many people have access to our ideas, interests, and persona essentially as well as the fact that we do not own our social media sites.

      There is something to be said regarding the age at which one was when Facebook/Myspace began. I have found that for those that were in high school or younger when they started using social media sites, it is much harder to break out of the primarily social use of the sites. Someone who was already an adult and an established professional would be more likely to have discretion on social media sites.

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